Following the success of last year's guide we have increased the number of frequently asked questions on this guide to 35. It is hoped that this will be a handy aide-memoire.
1. Why are 2 meetings needed?
Every parish is legally required to hold an Annual Parish Meeting to elect Churchwardens and an Annual Parochial Church Meeting to conduct other parish business. These are required under statute through the Church Representation Rules.
2. When should these meetings be held?
Between the 1st January and 30th April of each year.
3. What if there are genuine reasons that it is not possible to hold these meetings within that time frame?
Please urgently contact the Diocesan Secretary or your appropriate Archdeacon for advice.
4. Who is eligible to attend these meetings?
For the Annual Parish Meeting any member of the civil electoral roll of the civil parish(es) or someone on the electoral roll of the parish church(es) can attend and vote. For the Annual Parochial Church Meeting it is anyone on the electoral roll of the parish church(es) only.
Elections - Churchwardens
5. How many should be elected and for how long?
Two churchwardens should be elected for 1 year only for each church. There are no alternatives that are permitted in law.
6. What if there is only one candidate?
The one candidate will be elected unopposed. You should let your relevant Archdeacon know that you have been unsuccessful in filling both posts.
7. How should an election be conducted?
It is very important that elections are conducted properly. If there are more than 2 candidates standing there will need to be an election. The Church Representation Rules state that votes in elections can be given
i) on voting papers signed by the voter on the reverse thereof or
ii) if at least one tenth of the persons present and voting at the meeting so request, on numbered voting papers.
Therefore if an election is likely it would be advisable to prepare before the meeting for the possibility of a ballot using election papers since only 1 person needs to request it!. Please note that you must ask the voter to sign the ballot paper. Unsigned papers will therefore be INVALID. It's a good idea to ask people to print their names for ease of identification. Any persons who do not qualify for attendance at the meeting cannot vote.
There are rights of appeal to the Deanery and to the Diocese if any person believes that an election has been conducted improperly or unfairly.
8. Is there a restriction on how long a churchwarden can continue to be eligible for election?
The Churchwardens' Measure 2001 created a 6 year restriction the effects of which began to be relevant in 2008. Therefore currently a churchwarden may not be elected to office for a continuous period of more than 6 years since any continuous service prior to 2002 is ignored. The Annual Parish Meeting can vote to opt out of this restriction, but it must be done in advance of any such candidate standing for election. Any opt out by the Annual Parish Meeting holds until a subsequent similar meeting decides to opt back in.
9. Is there such a thing as a Vicar's Warden these days?
Yes indeed the incumbent of the parish has the ability to inform the Annual Parish Meeting that he/she intends to appoint one of the churchwardens. If this is done then the other position is open to nominations and election in the usual way.
10. What about Deputy or Assistant Church Wardens?
Deputy Churchwardens of district churches or places of worship other than parish churches are legally recognised under the Church Representation Rules and if appointed have ex-officio status on PCCs. However, they are not the Bishop's officer and they do not have the same legal status as churchwardens - they purely exercise functions designated to them. They will be elected in the same way as churchwardens.
Assistant Churchwardens and those designated Deputy Churchwardens in places not covered above do not have legal status and therefore need not be subject to election.
11. How many laity positions can we elect?
The number of positions for members of the laity elected to a PCC depends upon the size of the Electoral Roll according to the Church Representation Rules. These are the numbers:
Size of Electoral Roll Numbers of Elected Laity
Above 200 15
The numbers 6,9,12 and 15 can be varied by a resolution approved at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting in the year preceding. Hence for example such a resolution passed at the APCM in 2012 will not take effect until 2013.
Each election will be for a rolling 3- year period which means one third of the laity are elected each year. If a person has been elected as a result of a casual vacancy in which case they take up the unexpended term of the 3 year period.
12. Can anyone stand for election as a PCC member?
No there are certain criteria that have to be met. The requirements are that the person must
The second of the criteria above means that a clerk in Holy Orders cannot stand for election as a PCC member. There is no way in which the third of the above criteria can effectively be enforced unless the individual cannot sign the nomination form upon which these criteria will be included.
13. Isn't there a restriction on PCC employees themselves being a member of that PCC?
The Charity Commission have recently relaxed their stance on the employment of PCC members. The current position is this:
A person who is already an employee of a PCC may offer themselves for election to that PCC and may duly take up full membership if elected. This also applies to those PCC employees who upon election to an associated body subsequently become ex-officio members of that PCC. This means that the criteria at Q12 are not changed in any way. However a person who is a PCC member may not become an employee of that PCC without Charity Commission approval. This approval can be found at
www.canterburydiocese.org/employmentofpccmembers/csd1381c.pdf. Further in depth guidance from Archbishops' Council on these matters can be obtained at http://www.parishresources.org.uk/charity/remunerationguidance.pdf
14. Is there a restriction for how long a person can continuously be eligible for election as a PCC member?
No there are no restrictions as to how long a person can continuously serve as a PCC member. However the Annual Parochial Church Meeting under Rule 17 of the Church Representation Rules can pass a resolution that retiring elected members may not seek re-election for as long a period of time as that meeting may specify
15. How should elections for PCC members be conducted?
These are the same as for churchwardens (see Q7)
16. Can people be co-opted to the PCC? If so how many can be co-opted?
Yes co-options are permitted by a vote of the PCC and their term is until the next annual meeting. If you elect 6, 9 or 12 parish representatives then 2 co-options are permitted; if 15 parish representatives then 3 co-options are permitted.
17. Are Readers ex-officio members of PCC?
The Church Representation Rules say that any such of the readers who are licensed to that parish or licensed to an area which includes that parish and whose names are on the [electoral] roll of that parish as the annual meeting may determine. Accordingly their representation can effectively be changed by a resolution at the annual meeting.
Deanery Synod Representatives
18. How many representatives do we have?
Again this is dependent upon your Electoral Roll. The numbers are as follows:
Size of Electoral Roll Numbers of Elected Laity
201-300 4 301-400 5
Above 400 6
It should be noted that Deanery Synod Representatives are elected directly to the relevant synod. As a result of their position on Deanery Synod they become ex-officio members of the relevant PCC.
19. When do elections take place and how should they be conducted?
These elections take place at an Annual Parochial Church Meeting every 3 years. These elections should have taken place in 2011 but you can fill any casual vacancies at this year's annual meeting. Elections will be conducted in the same way as for churchwardens (Q7 above).
20. Is there a restriction for how long a person can continuously be eligible for election as a Deanery Synod member?
No there are no restrictions as to how long a person can continuously serve as a Deanery Synod member.
21. Do these have to be presented at the APCM?
It is a legal requirement under the Charities Acts for audited or independently examined accounts to be presented to an Annual Meeting.
The PCC needs to take responsibility if there is difficulty in meeting this obligation. Please contact the Diocesan Director of Finance urgently if this is a problem.
22. What is the Annual Report that is supposed to be presented to the Annual Meeting?
Whilst the Vicar may give a report and the Churchwarden's will report on the Fabric of the church and there may be even be other reports from church groups and organisations, the Annual report is separate and is legally required from all PCCs.
Please do take time to read the requirements for this report which can be found at http://www.canterburydiocese.org/parish/forms/index.htm
Independent Examiner or Auditor
23. Should our PCC's accounts be independently examined or audited?
The PCC's accounts should be independently examined unless the overall level of income in the year exceeds £½m in which case they should be audited. This is a legal requirement.
24. When is the independent examiner or auditor appointed?
The PCC should satisfy themselves that the candidate(s) for appointment are suitably qualified with the necessary financial experience or qualifications to undertake their responsibilities. These names should then be submitted to the Annual Meeting for approval. It is normal to allow for the PCC to agree the remuneration (if any) of those appointed.
25. When can new names be added or old names be deleted?
Before each Annual Parochial Church Meeting the Electoral Roll Officer will arrange for the electoral roll to be open for inspection. During this time any inaccuracies for members can be made whilst also considering new applications or to remove the names of those:
Once revised the electoral roll should be publicly displayed in church until the annual parochial church meeting. During this time of public display any errors or omissions can be corrected but no names can be added to or be removed from the roll.
At all other times during the year the Electoral Roll Officer can update the roll for the names of new applicants or for those whose name should be removed.
26. What official notice periods have to be given for this?
The annual revision of the roll should be completed between 15 and 28 days prior to the Annual Parochial Church meeting. The period of review has to be at least 14 days although it can be longer. A notice must be put on the church notice board giving the dates of this review.
It is the responsibility of the Electoral Roll officer appointed by each Annual Parochial Church meeting to organise the publication of these notices.
27. Are electoral rolls ever completely deleted so that all people have to re-apply to be on a new roll?
Yes every 6 years. The next such occasion is 2013. Next year!
28. Can the Annual Meetings make legally binding decisions?
Other than the election of churchwardens, PCC and Deanery Synod laity members and any resolutions outlined in the answers to Q8, Q12, Q14 and Q17, and the acceptance of the annual accounts any other motions or resolutions passed by these meetings are not legally binding.
Forms to be completed
29. What forms have to be completed before the Annual Meetings?
A notice should be placed on the church door or notice board signifying the date of the Annual Parish Meeting to elect Churchwardens and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.
A notice should also be displayed signifying the opportunity to update the Church Electoral Roll
Copies of these forms are available on the diocesan website at http://www.canterburydiocese.org/apcm/
30. What forms have to be completed after the Annual Meetings?
Forms need to be returned to Diocesan House signifying the number on the revised Electoral Roll and the names of the new churchwardens. Data Protection Forms also need to be completed for all those holding certain offices. These forms are sent to PCC Secretaries each year.
A notice also needs to be placed on the church door or notice board giving the names of those elected as churchwardens and those elected to PCC. Copies of these forms are available on the diocesan website at http://www.canterburydiocese.org/apcm/
31. Where can I get further information?
Copies of the Churchwardens Measure 2001 are available from Diocesan House or on the internet at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/2001/1/contents.
The Church Representation Rules updated to 2011 are available from Church House Publishing (www.chpublishing.co.uk) price £7.99. A limited number of copies are held at Diocesan House.
Copies of all forms that are required for Annual Meetings are available on the Canterbury Diocesan Website at
First PCC Meetings
We are commonly asked questions about business that the first meeting of the newly formed PCC has to transact. Here are the most common questions.
32. What appointments should the first PCC meeting make?
The PCC must appoint a Secretary and a Treasurer for the year ahead at its first meeting. They should also appoint an Electoral Roll Officer. Any co-opted members (cf Q16) would normally be approved at this meeting.
33. Who can be appointed as Treasurer?
The Treasurer does not legally have to be a PCC member. However the PCC have a duty to satisfy themselves that their financial affairs are being properly managed. They will have the right to ask questions of any Treasurer who is not a PCC member and will want regular updates on finances at each meeting. It would be normal therefore to co-opt any Treasurer who is appointed and who is not otherwise a member of PCC. The PCC will also want to satisfy themselves that the candidate for appointment as Treasurer has the necessary financial and bookkeeping skills
34. What if no Treasurer can be appointed?
One of the churchwardens would be required to act in this instance. However this is a less than satisfactory arrangement and the PCC would be expected to make all reasonable efforts to secure the services of an appropriately qualified Treasurer.
35. How is the Standing Committee constituted?
The Church Representation Rules lay down that the PCC shall have a Standing Committee of not less than 5 persons. This shall consist of the minister and the churchwardens in ex-officio capacity. The PCC shall appoint at least 2 others of their members to the standing Committee. The PCC would do well to ensure that the Secretary and Treasurer are also included in this membership although they are not ex-officio members.
© Canterbury 2013 jr